Thursday, December 27, 2007

Spring Reminder

Joe_hyacinth 1

My brother took this picture in the Spring of '07 when the flowers first started blooming.  It's been so dreary and gray lately I wanted to post something to remind us what is to come just a few months from now.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Moon Shoes

Ben and Abby received these Moon Shoes as a Christmas gift.  Without a doubt they are fun.  All of their cousins will be getting them too, so I can only imagine what my yard will look like this summer with 5 or 6 kids jumping around on these things at once!  I'll post an update if we call 911.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Little Hands, Big Gifts


Ben made a gift for me at school this week.  It's a candle with 3 snowmen on it, each made with his fingerprint and the details drawn with permanent marker.  The accompanying poem reads:

Little snowman, one, two, three,

Made with my fingers-

For you from me.

When you light the candle,

It will burn so bright,

To remind you that I LOVE YOU,

Day and night!

This is most definitely one of the most precious gifts I will receive this year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Creche

The Creche

Each year I set up a creche (French for Nativity Scene) for the kids.  This year we did it a little differently because they are getting older.  As I told the story of Jesus' birth I let them put the pieces in place.  We've reviewed the story 3 times now this month, so they were able to fill in a lot of the story themselves, and as the story progressed they put each piece in its place.  We used to withhold the baby Jesus until Christmas morning, then put him in the manger and say a prayer of thanks for His birth, but we'll let him stay there now and just pray together on Christmas morning.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Fruity for Fruit Cake, Now Accepting Donations



My husband is a fruit cake addict. Every year he buys himself a fruit cake and actually eats it. All of it!

He asked me to post and ask if anyone has a fruitcake they won't be eating and would like to pass it on to him, he will gladly accept it. Please send your fruit cake to Jerry Brodeur, 100 Grand Street, Worcester, MA, 01610

Snow Day



In the last 4 days we've had about 20" of snow followed by sleet, freezing rain then rain.  Today we played outside for at least 2 hours.   I'd like to say fun was had by all, but for me it's just participating to make sure the kids are safe.  I'd really rather be inside doing something more adult.  I always have this fear someone will drive by and snatch one of my kids, so I rarely let them out without an adult somewhere very near.  We live in a nice neighborhood, but bad things can happen anywhere, and I try to be diligently watching them all the time.  It's hard for them to understand why their cousins, who visit their grandparents that live downstairs from us, have more freedom than they do.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Annual Gingerbread Houses

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Today was our annual ginger bread house building day.  We meet with friends every year and make an afternoon of it.  The top two pictures are Ben and Abby (my kids), the middle two pictures are Li and Tuan.  Their family has been friends with ours since Abby was a baby.  Tuan and Abby are from the same orphanage in Hanoi, and we met Tuan's parents through our agency Alliance for Children

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Ao Dai


I was looking through some old memory cards and found this picture.  We took it on Christmas Eve 2005.  We bought the Ao Dais when we traveled to Viet Nam in 2002.

Monday, November 26, 2007

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree!



Abby begged to put up the tree this weekend, and in hindsight it was the best time possible for us.  We have a tradition where we have a couple of slabs cut off the bottom of the tree each year and let them dry a few months.  Then I sand them and glue a picture of each kid on a slab and polyurethane over it.  When that is dry I write the year on the back with a sharpie and add a hook and ribbon to the top and I have an ornament for the next year's tree made from the previous year's one.  When each kid moves on and has a tree of their own someday I'll be able to pass on a collection of each of their trees with pictures of what they looked like that year.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

"Pacman Pie"

Pacman Pumpkin

I made 4 pumpkin pies trying to find the perfect milk free recipe for Abby (allergic to milk).  Two ended up in the I forgot to add the sugar to, the other just failed all taste tests.  This one was the favorite, and was dubbed "Pacman Pie".  Let me know if you want the recipe for a decent milk/soy/egg free pumpkin pie.

By the way, it's midnight Friday, and she hasn't eaten a bite of ANY of the pumpkin pies yet.

All Dressed Up


I never posted pics of the kids dressed up at the end of October, so here they are.  Ben, obviously is a fireman, Abby a cheerleader.   This is her actual cheerdance costume that she's used for her dance recitals.   Neither one of them likes to stray too much from the norm.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Grey's Anatomy, Our Anatomy

Abby and I had our first true conversation about racism. We were watching Grey's Anatomy and she asked why the brown doctor couldn't operate on the patient, and why the girl one had to (Sandra Oh). I explained some about race, discrimination, what a swastika was and how symbols identify people and their beliefs. (All in brief and according to what a 7 year old could take in.) Nothing like starting a sentence with "Well, you know how you and I don't look alike, right..."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving Thanks


We spent the day with family and friends (who we consider family).  We ate in abundance, but laughed more.  I haven't had a Thanksgiving this good in years.  Thanks to all of you for making such a special day for me. 

Monday, November 19, 2007

This Just In...


"Parents help children through math problems Thursday night. Among some of the conundrums —
just how many M&Ms are in a typical bag?"



WEBSTER — How can one measure that elusive inchworm? Just how many M&Ms are in the typical “fun size” bag? If Billy has three cookies and Martha has five, how many cookies are there?  Children and parents mulled over these questions Thursday, Nov. 8, during Park Avenue Elementary School’s “Supper  and Books” event, which featured a night of stories, math problems, and of course, classic squared-off cafeteria-style pizza.


We're published...again!  This appeared in our local newspaper after we participated in our children's school "Supper and Books" activity.

...More news at 11.

Shutterfly | Photo Cards

Shutterfly | Photo Cards

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Christmas Card

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I spent some time today trying to get pictures of the kids for a Christmas card. It took a Herculean effort to get Abby to co-operate (2 days of fighting and tears), and you can see what it was like with Ben. You might think I mistreated or tortured them. Geez, if the worst they had in life was to put on nice clothes and have a picture taken, then what a blessing life is! Maybe they need a little more hardship in their lives to understand Christmas card time isn't so bad after all.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Best Gift of All

Abby and a friend have been rehearsing a couple of songs for a performance the music teacher at her school will be directing for the second grade parents.  Here is a video they wanted me to make for him.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Le Petit Chef

Ben LOVES to bake. Really, to help me with anything I am cooking. I try to let both of my kids help with as much of the work as they can (except working with the stove) because I think it builds their confidence, helps them with their math (counting measurements, etc.) and the sooner they can take the task over for me the better! I've been doing family cooking for about 30 years and to be honest, I'm pretty sick of it. I also started doing the family grocery shopping when I got my license at 16 years old. I figured if I was doing the cooking, I might as well do the shopping too. That way I could make sure I had what I needed on hand. My mom was working full time, and it made perfect sense. I'm sure she was glad to have one less chore to do. My brother always came with me and made fun out of it.

As I'm making this blog entry my husband is at the market with both kids doing the grocery shopping. Thank goodness he doesn't mind it too much because I've been avoiding it at all costs lately, even using online shopping w/ grocery delivery services!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Our Commemoration of the Red Sox in the World Series

Now, there's no doubt that these guys will *never* play anything more than wiffleball, but maybe they'll feel more at home on stage at the Improv. This is my husband Jerry and our friend Brian goofing around in our yard over Labor Day weekend. Yes, Brian does have a steel plate in his head. Feel free to e-mail your comments to my husband Jerry.

Pumpkin Time

Abby and Ben working diligently on decorating their pumpkins.

Ben is determined to hammer in all the pegs that will light up when he is through. (Remember "Light Bright"?)

The finished pumpkins. Ben's is on the left, Abby's on the right.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Harvest

Ben sees an apple at the top of a tree that he wants to pick.

Abby has shined her apple to a brilliant red. Now just for the eating.

We made the annual pilgrimage to the Tougas' Farm to pick our apples this year. We were too late for our favorites, Honeycrisps, but found plenty of Macouns and Cortlands for baking. The kids and I have been eating a couple a day and we have a peck so I don't think we'll run out soon. I'll be scouring the Weight Watcher's cookbooks for some new apple recipes.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Abby's First Day of 2nd Grade

Today was Abby's first day of 2nd grade and Ben's screening for Kindergarten. The summer is over far too quickly. Our town is talking about an extended school day, trying to add about 200 hours to the school year. I am against it. My kids are away from me too many hours as it is. My husband and I don't like other people having so much influence over them, but they do need an education. And in our town we've seen it before where the budget cuts have eliminted the arts and extras and left only the academics, which I expect will happen once the grant money runs out. So, I fear it will be less hours with the family, and eventually less of the benefits of the talked about grant that we hope to receive for the return of the music programs, recesses, etc. My way of dealing with it all is by volunteering as much as possible in the P.T.O., in the classroom, to the principal, and keeping my kids involved in activities and with their friends. With working and running a business it is exhausting, but it has to be done.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Who Lives in a Pineapple Under the Sea?

We just returned from a vacation in Lake George, NY. If she's going to be sucked dry in an arcade, Abby's money is going to Spongebob Squarepants! I like the squishy yellow guy, but how many quarters can one machine take?

Monday, August 6, 2007

A Cut Above

A few weeks back I gave Ben a haircut which drew blood. This time he cut his own hair. Well, some of it anyway. By the time we got to the sides and back his defenses were down and he was beginning to trust me a little. That, plus the offer of $5.00 to get the ordeal over with ;-)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

What's In A Name

Think you can prounounce this? It's the name of our town lake. We call it Webster Lake for short, but I can say it pretty easily. But I've been practicing since I could read. The rough translation for it is "Englishmen at Manchaug territory at the meeting and fishing place at the boundary". It is the longest place name in the United States and 6th longest in the world. Its 15 uses of "g" are the most instances of any letter in a word. The name also contains 9 instances of the letter "a" (not including the "a" in "lake"), more than any other word in the English language. Well, off now to play Trivial Pursuit...

Good Fortune

I've got a couple of new projects in the works related to my volunteer work with Vietnamese adoptions. Now, I don't believe at all in fortune cookies, but Abby gets a big kick out of them, and I think she even believes in them. So, for the sake of playing along with her, I'll apply this fortune towards my new project. I'll announce it when it launches!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Summertime, Summertime, Sum-Sum-Summertime

I love this time of year, especially poolside. It seems as if time stands still. Hot summer afternoons, the humidity, the cicadas, hot dogs on the grill. My kids have both learned to swim.

I've been working from home a lot. I take my laptop outside to the picnic table and log in to the shop's computer. It takes longer to get stuff done but it's harder to keep the kids occupied in a little office with me if I take them to the shop. Cramped, hot (no air conditioning) and trying to talk business with a television and kids in the background is not too professional. And there's only so much dusting I can get them to do in the showroom area. You know they like to swiffer but a dusty rag only holds so much fascination for a 5 and 7 year old.

Friday, July 13, 2007

We're having a ball

We have a large driveway, and live in a 3 family house. Add a pool to the mix and the result is a yardful of children, which is great for my kids. Here's a picture of my kids with their cousins. Outside playtime starts mid morning (or earlier) and continues until 8:30 or later durning the summer. I love a house full of life.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Mrs. Thuy and her Mom

Last week I took the kids and went to NYC via Amtrak for a couple of days. We went to see Thuy who owned the Claudia Hotel up until a short time ago when she converted it into a retail clothing store. When adoptions from Viet Nam closed to Americans she didn't have the business to sustain her as she catered to American adoptive families. It was a wonderful reunion, and her mother is so nice. I really appreciated the opportunity to visit with them.

I had many firsts: first train ride, first subway ride, first time hailing a taxi and of course there was Grand Central Station, Penn Station, Central Park and Times Square. The best part was connecting with all of our internet friends, and getting re-acquainted with old ones.

Let Freedom Ring

Like so many other bloggers, I couldn't resist the urge to post a picture of our local fireworks. Partially funded by the town, partially funded by a local restauranteur, they're better now than I remember in all of my um, 29 years. (No, you can't have my mother's phone number to verify that!

Sunday, July 1, 2007


We took a leisurely Sunday ride today and ended up at Roseland Park in Woodstock, CT. The kids were having so much fun on the slide that Sonny decided to join them. It was very good to see him enjoying himself, he works so hard (see our website and our blog to see what we're always working on).

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Twist and Shout

Abby's dance recital performance: Cheerdance, June 23, 2007

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dancing Queens

Abby and her cousins had their dress rehearsal today for their recital. It was long, but I always love to see the it, sometimes even more than the recital itself. It's relaxed and a good time to catch up with friends I haven't seen in a while. My littlest niece was a hoot, completely ignoring the routine and making up her own on the stage. Hers was better than the choreographed one! Way to go girls!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Swim Fishy!

Abby is practicing some of her pool moves., goggle...

School got out for the kids last week. I introduced them to Alice Cooper's "School's Out" which they LOVED! I think it was the "no more pencils, no more books, no more teacher's dirty looks". They're only 5 and 7 years old and already are amazed each time Sonny or I know a song that has been re-made by some young artist. You know how it only begins when the young are born, nothing existed before their awareness. Abby is so much like me in thought, word and deed it's scary. I can almost read her mind. I tell her what she's going to do next (I used to think and behave so many of the same ways she does when I was her age it's scary...and surprising and sometimes frustrating for her...she can't get away with anything). I hope it works this way when she's a teen, it ought to make my life easier, a little less difficult trying to figure this teenager out.

Plane Spotting

My husband Jerry (aka Sonny to close family and friends) and Ben were watching the sky for planes. We live under an active flight path and we can count 15 to 2o planes an hour in the afternoon to evening sky. Ben and Abby like to imagine which ones might be traveling to Vietnam.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Abby Girl

This is Abby's self portrait.

Abby and Ben got Fisher Price Kid Tough Digital cameras for Christmas. If anyone is looking for a good kid friendly camera that can take a dropping, this is it. It is very easy to use for about 4 years old and up. My kids even plug it into the USB port on my computer, download the pics (minor help from me in the beginning) and modify them by themselves. They love it.

Trinkets from Vietnam

Here's another picture Abby took with her camera. I have an endless stream of photos from both kids....gigs of stuffed animals posed in so many ways.....

Monday, June 11, 2007

Rainy days

How else should a 5 year old dress for a rainy day? In a fireman raincoat and head gear of course!

Time out

I was searching through my photo archives and found these. When Ben was around 2 years old he was getting frequent time outs for not listening. He would put his hands on the wall and stand perfectly still but his eyes would dart left and right looking for me. I'd wait for a minute or two then call him to me. He'd turn around with the biggest smile on his face. I'd ask him if he knew why he was having a time out, he'd say yes and tell me exactly why. He's a very smart kid. They we'd hug and move on, with an admonishment not to do it again.


My heart overflows with joy.

Important Lessons

Here is a VERY IMPORTANT LESSON: When cutting your child's hair, avoid the ears!

I was cutting Ben's hair and he objected to the electric clippers. I offered to use the scissors, but we were pressed for time so I was cutting too quickly. Bad idea. He moved, I snipped, he yelled "YOU CUT MY EAR!" and I ran for the bandages. And the ibuprofen. And the cash to buy him off. Yup, I'm that kind of mom.

Anyway, here's the sorry picture, my shame exposed. Go ahead, laugh at me.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Mommy's Girl

Abby wanted a Tshirt with "Mommy's girl on it.
We took this picture for the front and had it printed up.
One of the few where I'm not behind the camera.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Happy 5th Birthday Ben

Because Ben is playing T ball in Little League I thought I'd make a baseball cake. It looked wonderful until I transported it to the party. Good thing I took a picture of it *before* we traveled.